Hunger in the U.S. and Oregon a Sad Reality
According to a recent study, children who experience hunger even once are more likely to have poor overall health down the line. This new finding is especially disturbing considering that 49.1 million people living in food insecure households (2008), of which 16.7 million are children. And hunger strikes regardless of age. Nationally, five million older Americans face hunger and every day millions are forced to choose between buying groceries or buying medicine they need or paying a mortgage or rent. And as the second hungriest state in the union, Oregonians are some of the worse hit. The Oregon Food Bank reports that 69 percent of Oregon households worry at least sometimes about how they will get their next meal. Last year, every month, 240,000 Oregonians ate meals from an emergency food box, a 20 percent increase from 2007 and 2008.
No Excuse for Hunger
“We are committed to helping meet the needs of our neighbors and friends,” says Caroline Gardner, an AARP Oregon Community Action Team volunteer in Grants Pass who is leading the charge to organize a local drive to raise funds and food for the Josephine County Food drive this fall.
On Sept. 11, Gardner and other AARP members will be working with Josephine County Food Bank volunteers and the community, to have a presence in various sites across the county to showcase the growing hunger problem and encourage their neighbors to open their cupboards, wallets and hearts.
Gardner, who marvels at the fact that her local food bank distributed over 2 million pounds of food last year, is outraged that every month some 9,500 to 10,000 of her fellow county residents have to rely on emergency food boxes to get by. Gardner, who has recruited not only fellow AARP members in the area, but her own granddaughter and friends to help with the 9/11 project, states emphatically “There is no excuse for hunger. We have to do something.”
The Grants Pass volunteer service project in Josephine County is one of several hunger focused volunteer projects taking place across the Oregon on September 11. As part of Create the Good, a community service effort, AARP Oregon is encouraging volunteers and members to join other neighbors, friends and family to address hunger in their communities.
“We are urging everyone to commit to doing something good on 9/11,” said Bandana Shrestha, AARP Oregon’s Director of Community Engagement.“You can sign up to join an existing service project, create your own, or simply help out at a local food bank. The need is tremendous and the opportunities to help innumerable.We are especially excited about the four special projects taking place on 9/11 through the Focus on Hunger in Oregon collaboration.”
Focus on Hunger in Oregon: Mini-Grant Winners
AARP Oregon, Oregon Volunteers! and the Oregon state office of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announce the Focus on Hunger in Oregon winners this fall during 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. Four Oregon nonprofits will receive small grants this fall to support volunteer projects that promote an ethic of service, volunteering and inclusion in communities across Oregon.
“Volunteering is part of our culture and one of the greatest assets we have as a state,” says Kathleen Joy, Executive Director of Oregon Volunteers! According to the latest report from CNCS, Oregon ranks 11th in the nation in volunteering with more than a million Oregonians giving their time. “Oregonians have a long history of looking out for one another during hard times. These four projects exemplify this spirit.”
The projects from Elders in Action, Oregon Rural Action, North West Portland Ministries and Corvallis Environmental Center will mobilize Oregonians of all ages to work together to tackle hunger and food insecurity in their communities during the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. From gleaning food that would otherwise go to waste and teaching food preservation and cooking techniques to working in a community garden, these projects are unique and help meet vital needs.
“We are choosing to commemorate Sept. 11 through a service project that brings together a group of intergenerational volunteers to work in the fields at the Multnomah CROPS,” explains Mark Noonan, Volunteer Engagement and Social Media Coordinator at Elders in Action. CROPS (Community Reaps Our Produce and Shared), a program that harnesses surplus county property to grow fresh, organic vegetable for low income residents in coordination with the Oregon Food Bank and other local nonprofits such as Snow Cap, a nonprofit organization in Eastern Multnomah County that provides food, clothing, and advocacy and other services to the poor. “At the end of the day, we hope to deliver several hundred pounds of fresh vegetable to feed the hungry and we welcome volunteers!”
Call to Action
“It’s as easy as ‘giving 5’ – 5 cans, 5 dollars, or 5 hours at a local food bank or hunger project,” Shrestha said. “Please consider joining neighbors, friends and family to address hunger in your community this fall.”
To learn more or find an opportunity near you:
- Visit Create the Good to sign up for a volunteer opportunity near you, to post opportunities, or to down load a do-it-yourself toolkit to help you organize your own project.
- Learn more about the four grant recipients.
- Find a food bank in your community.
Going Hungry in America: How Could it Happen Here?
Food Programs Feel the Squeeze: The second in a five-part special report
What Happened to the Food Surplus?: The third in a five-part special report
Food Stamps: Poverty's Barometer: The fourth in a five-part special report
What Can We Do?: Last in a five-part special report
Poverty and Aging; AARP Foundation Commits to Help Alleviate Hunger Among Older Americans